Thursday, November 10, 2016

Growing Cassava

Manihot esculenta 001.jpg
Cassava, also known as Yuca, is a shrub native to South America.  It was served at the best steak houses in Venezuela in the 70s, where I grew up, before the country's economy collapsed.  I doubt there remain any steak houses open there, but surely there must still be people growing this delicious staple.

Cassava grows well in Central Florida were we live.  Although it is readily available at the grocery stores around us, most of the time it has been sprayed with a shiny wax material, so roots bought at the store will not grow.

Thankfully, there are plenty of people growing cassava in Florida, so either you get some from a friend or buy some on eBay.  I bought organic cuttings from a seller (goodsam330) in Ft. Myers because I can grow the plants in our small greenhouse and have them ready to plant in March after the ground warms up again.


I think the plant itself is very nice, looks quite ornamental/decorative, so it could even be grown as edible landscaping in a subdivisions property with strict rules about keeping ornamentals only.  It also has an interesting use that my eBay seller pointed out on his item description:

CASSAVA-CUTTINGS-PLANT-YUCA-ESCULENTA-MANIHOT-034-SWEET-JAMAICA-RED-034-6-pieces

"TROPICAL JUNGLE: One cassava plant can block the view from a neighbor you don't want to see.  The picture (above) in a 70 gallon pot is doing just that."

My favorite way of eating "yuca" is fried with a cilantro/tomatillo dip.  You first have to boil it until soft before frying.  It is also good boiled with olive oil or butter and chopped parsley over it.  In college I had a friend from India who would boil it, then sautee mustard seeds and pour them over it - delicious!

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